Time Capsule 6 - The mindf**k

Send six artefacts and lessons back to 1994

For my last artefact I will do something different. I will be playing with the time traveling aspect of this essay and leaving the designers of the past questioning their own place within a society.

The laws of time travel dictate that everything that changes in the past has cause and effect in the future, or a version of said future. Therefore for this artefact I will be designing alternative realities.

Imagine worldwide television coverage and news support. The unveiling of the time capsule will take place in Times Square, New York. The Mayor of New York at this time, Rudy Giuliani, will be the one tasked with opening the recently found time capsule, a huge honor. Inside its cold metal exterior he will find, to his horror, a newspaper article dating to the current date and exact current time, its cover filled edge to edge with the Mayors bewildered expression accompanied by the date neatly printed in the top right corner. Nonsense he tries to convince himself, his mind trying to make sense of what he is gripping tightly within his hands, this must be a joke, and he’ll nervously smile and wave at the live television crew and photographers. But the newspaper does not lie, and neither do the other articles and photos which lie further within the metallic capsule telling the tale of what will happen in the next weeks, months and years in precise detail.

How would our society change with the knowledge that everything that has or will happen is already predestined?


You are not important and that’s okay.
As a designer it is easy to lose yourself in the self spiralling importance that projects create. If our future was thought of as set, goals and achievements known and our own paths formed, what would really matter? What is the reason that we design? Do we design through our own accord, or because we were moulded to do so by our environment, or due to a higher being with a greater linear plan?

I want this lesson to be about defining the reason for your being as a designer and questioning the value that you give to society.


Lesson 2. The butterfly effect

The second lesson is completely contrary to the first and touches upon the sciences of Chaos Theory, or more precisely, a sub-theory known as the butterfly effect. The butterfly effect depicts that any change in an initial condition or action, no matter how small, can cause a ripple effect of cause, effects and results spiralling in a web of infinite complexity and size. The tiniest of actions can create the largest of consequences.

“it has been said something as small as the flutter of a butterflies wings can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world”
— Chaos Theory


In our current time we have never been faced with such hard evidence of living in a predestinated world. From what we know, our future is one of incomprehensible possibilities and endless outcomes. A designer should therefore feel empowered and a certain sense of responsibility towards the action that their designs will have, as said design will touch an untold amount of people, each with their own degrees of action.

In my first artefact I mentioned the butterfly ballot and feel it ties the conclusion of the essay nicely together: “it has been said something as small as the design of a ballot poll can ultimately cause a president to be elected”